Jamesburg council adopts $5.8 million municipal budget for 2019

JAMESBURG – The Jamesburg Borough Council has adopted a $5.86 million municipal budget that will fund the operation of and services to the municipality during 2019.

The 2019 budget has decreased by $33,340 from the 2018 budget that totaled $5.9 million.

Borough Administrator Scott Frueh said the 2019 tax levy will be $4.44 million; the tax levy is the amount to be collected from Jamesburg’s residential and commercial property owners to support the budget. The 2018 tax levy was $4.26 million.

He reported that Jamesburg expects to receive $413,905 in state aid for 2019, which is the same amount the borough received in 2018.

With an unanimous vote, council members adopted the municipal budget on May 15.

Police Chief James Craparotta spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“In addition to police services, the Jamesburg Police Department is also the primary dispatcher for the Jamesburg First Aid Squad, the Jamesburg Fire Department and Jamesburg Animal Control,” Craparotta explained.

“The [police department’s] mission is to provide traffic safety, prevent crime, conduct criminal investigations, maintain ever-growing community policing programs for the community, protect people’s constitutional rights, all while maintaining the highest quality of police service,” he said.

Craparotta said he has recommended that the mayor and council hire additional police personnel to conduct police operations, to help the department comply with additional mandates and to protect the community.

The police department has 16 full-time officers, one Special Law Enforcement Officer Class II, four full-time 911 emergency telecommunicators and one part-time 911 emergency telecommunicator. The police department also employs 13 crossing guards and one part-time civilian clerical staff member, according to the chief.

“I want to make sure it was clear to everybody, it’s different than four years ago because of all the mandated things we have to do now, that we did not have to do before,” Craparotta said. “If we have less staff our overtime budget would not be able to be controlled the way we control it now. … I just wanted to outline all the duties we do now that we did not do before and all the processes we have to follow now that was easier to do in years past.”

Craparotta reported that he is recommending that the governing body hire an additional Special Law Enforcement Officer Class II/part-time dispatcher and that officials take $5,000 from the proposed police overtime budget and move it back to pay for an additional Class II officer.

Councilwoman Samantha Rampacek said, “[The] council has ultimately decided not to make any changes in regard to employment, which was a concern. We decided we would rather have the tax increase than to cut any positions at this time.”

With no employment cuts being made this year, Rampacek said Jamesburg also has no debt. She said there are only two municipalities in New Jersey that are debt-free.

“One good thing for this year is that the [Jamesburg Public School District] is at a zero percent increase. [The school district] has its own reasons how that happened, but that really does balance out … so residents aren’t going to see as huge of an impact as we would imagine when we hear these numbers,” Rampacek explained.

Rampacek agreed to meet with Craparotta to discuss the matter further.

Councilwoman Coleen Rutsky said, “In no way do we sit up here and not respect and appreciate what you do as our chief, and all that your officers do to keep us safe. I really appreciate the changes you have made since you have become chief and I know you are doing it for the betterment of our town. We, on the other hand, are charged with a responsibility as well and that is to be fiscally responsible with the budget we are given.”

In 2018, Jamesburg’s municipal tax rate was $1.791 per $100 of assessed valuation, according to Frueh. The average home in the borough was assessed at $122,543 and the owner of that home paid about $2,194 in municipal taxes

In 2019, Jamesburg’s municipal tax rate is projected to be $1.806 per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in the borough is now assessed at $122,789 and the owner of that home will pay about $2,216 in municipal taxes.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Jamesburg school taxes and Middlesex County taxes.

The amount of taxes an individual pays is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

“Health care costs have decreased due to retiree premiums decreasing [and] police salaries and wages have increased due to a new police contract,” Frueh said. “Clerk salaries and wages increased due to becoming certified.”

Frueh said new employees will not be hired unless required to maintain staffing and that there is no one scheduled to retire this year. No departments will be eliminated or consolidated this year.

“The only capital improvements to be completed will be paid by the New Jersey Department of Transportation for a road reconstruction project during 2019,” Frueh said. “We are not appropriating any capital improvement fund money.”

For more information, visit the borough’s website at www.bit.ly/2HysE8i.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.